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Amazon launches new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 09:35

Amazon.com Inc. said Tuesday that it has introduced the Fire HD 10 tablet that the company says is 30% faster, can be equipped with Alexa hands-free capabilities, 32 GB of internal storage, a 10-inch widescreen and 10 hours of battery life. Priced at about $150, the tablet is available for pre-order today. Alexa will be available via a software update that will begin rolling out on October 11. Amazon shares are up 0.4% in early trading and up 30% for the year so far. The S&P 500 index is up nearly 12% for 2017 to date.

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U.S. stocks hit all-time highs after opening gains

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 09:32

U.S. stock-market indexes opened in record territory on Tuesday as investors awaited the start of a two-day meeting of Federal Reserve policy makers. The S&P 500 opened 2.6 points, or 0.1%, higher at 2,506.7. The Nasdaq Composite index inched 11 points, or 0.2% higher to 6,466. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 33 points at 22,365 at the open. Among the best performers on Wall Street, Michael Kors Holding Ltd jumped after analysts at Oppenheimer upgraded the stock to outperform from perform.

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Nike's stock selloff cuts Dow futures gain in half

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 09:21

Shares of Nike Inc. slumped 1.9% in premarket trade Tuesday, after a downgrade at Susquehanna Financial, which is cutting the gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures in half. Analyst Sam Poser at Susquehanna cut his rating to neutral from positive, and slashed his stock price target to $54 from $64. The stock's price decline of 99 cents ahead of the open would shave about 7 points off the Dow , while Dow futures were up 8 points. He said there is an oversupply of Nike basketball product in North America, which should pressure sales and margins, as it goes against Nike's business model of keeping supply below demand. He said a near-term lack of innovation in select categories is also hurting performance more than expected. The stock has gained 5.3% year to date, while the Dow has climbed 13%.

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Tesla's stock pulls back after Jefferies sets bearish rating and price target

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 09:00

Shares of Tesla Inc. slumped 1% in premarket trade Tuesday, pulling back from the previous session's record close, after Jefferies started coverage of the electric car company with a bearish underweight rating, citing concerns over valuation. Analyst Phillippe Houchois set his price target at $280, which is 27% below Monday's record close of $385. He said he doesn't believe Tesla can deliver gross margin levels that could be consistent with the attractive returns that investors seem to expect, given that product mix is declining faster than battery size and cost, battery manufacturing is set to be a low-margin business and as depreciation is catching up quickly. "It is with a bit of a heavy heart that we initiate coverage of Tesla at underperform," Houchois wrote in a note to clients. "Achievements to date and vision are impressive, but we don't think Tesla's vertically integrated business model can be scaled up as profitably and quickly as consensus thinks and valuation multiples imply." He expects Tesla to report losses until 2020, while the FactSet consensus sees a profit of $5.33 for 2019. Tesla's stock has soared 80% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 12%.

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Best Buy aims for revenue of $43 billion in 2021

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:54

Best Buy Co. Inc. set long-term financial goals and updated its "Best Buy 2020: Building the New Blue" growth strategy ahead of its investor day event, which begins at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday. Best Buy set a goal of $43 billion in revenue for fiscal 2021, versus $39.4 billion in fiscal 2017. The adjusted earnings per share goal is $4.75 to $5.00. The company plans to drive $600 million in annualized cost savings by the end of fiscal 2021. By the end of October, Best Buy will enhance the smart home area in all its stores, roll out the Best Buy Smart Home by Vivint home automation and security product to 450 stores and add 1,500 employees dedicated to smart home. And in two markets, the retailer is piloting a service, Assured Living, that allows adult children to check in on their aging parents. Best Buy shares are up 0.7% in premarket trading, and up 34.4% for the year so far. The S&P 500 index is up nearly 12% for 2017 to date.

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U.S. current account defict up 8.5% at $123.1B in 2nd quarter

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:30

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The U.S. current-account deficit, a measures of the nation's debt to other countries, jumped 8.5% in the second quarter to $123.1 billion. The increase stemmed mostly from lower secondary income. The federal government collected fewer fines and penalties from foreign sources. The deficit in the first quarter, meanwhile, was revised down to $113.5 billion from $116.8 billion. The current account reveals if a country is a net lender or debtor. The current account deficit was 2.6% of GDP in the third quarter. That's up from 2.4% in the first quarter but well below a peak of 6.3% in 2005.

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Teva shares rise 2% on debt covenant amendments

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:25

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. shares rose 2.3% in premarket trade Tuesday after the company announced it has made amendments to its U.S. dollar and Japanese yen term loan and revolving credit facilities, which the company said will provide it "greater flexibility." The company, which has sold a number of assets to pay down debt, including its specialty global women's health business, "appears to have addressed the most important near-term overhangs and I expect the equity to stabilize," said EvercoreISI analyst Umer Raffat. Under the Tuesday announcement, Teva's amended leverage ratio covenants in its credit agreements allow a maximum leverage ratio of five times through and including the end of 2018, declining gradually to 3.5 times by the end of 2020. Teva said that as of the end of June, the aggregate principal amount collectively outstanding under the U.S. dollar term loan facility was $5 billion and was $1.4 billion under the Japanese yen term loan facilities and, under the U.S. dollar revolving credit facility, the aggregate committed principal amount was $4.5 billion. Teva only has to pay a one-time fee for the renegotiated covenants, Raffat said, rather than ongoing incremental interest, and the news allows for "a fair amount of cushion" for the company. While generic threats to Teva's key multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone continues to pose a problem for the company, "here's the good news: between Teva's divestitures already announced [and] additional ones quoted in press, as well as cash flow from operations over the next 2-3 quarters, Teva can simply pay off the ~$6B in debt that is tied to the covenants," Raffat said. Teva shares have plummeted 45.8% over the last three months, compared with a 2.1% rise in the S&P 500 .

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Walgreens cleared to purchase 1,900-plus Rite Aid stores and more for $4.4 billion

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:21

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. said Tuesday that it has gotten regulatory approval to purchase Rite Aid Corp. assets including 1,932 stores, three distribution centers and related inventory for $4.375 billion in cash. This deal updates the terms of the June 2017 agreement, which was a $5.175 billion deal for 2,186 stores. Store purchases are expected to start in October and complete in spring 2018, and will focus primarily on the northeast and southern U.S. The three distribution centers, which won't begin their transition for at least a year, are in Dayville, Conn., Philadelphia, and Spartanburg, S.C. Walgreens will assume certain limited-store liabilities in the transaction, the related leases and give Rite Aid the option to become a member of the Walgreens Boots Alliance's group purchasing organization, which Rite Aid can exercise through May 2019. After the stores are acquired, they are expected to be converted to the Walgreens brand. The deal is not expected to impact adjusted earnings per share in the fiscal year ending August 2018. The company expects synergies of more than $300 million, fully realized within four years of the initial closing. Walgreens shares are unchanged in premarket trading and up 2.2% for the past year. Rite Aid shares are up 2.2% in premarket trading, but down 66% for the last year. And the S&P 500 index is up 17.1% for the past 12 months.

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Synchronoss's stock plunges after Siris ends buyout interest

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:17

Shares of Synchronoss Technologies Inc. sank 15% in premarket trade Tuesday, after its largest shareholder, Siris Capital Group, disclosed that it was no longer interested in pursuing an all-cash buyout of the mobile cloud solutions company. Siris still owns about 6 million Synchronoss shares, or 13% of the shares outstanding, and said it is prepared to consider other forms of a potential transaction. Synchronoss said it remains in "active discussions" with Siris and other interested parties in a potential deal. "The Synchronoss board is committed to enhancing value for all shareholders and continues to explore a full range of strategic, operational and financial alternatives, which may include a sale of the company or other transactions," the company said in a statement. The stock had run up 56% over the past three months through Monday, but was still down 56% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 12% so far this year.

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Post Holdings to buy Bob Evans in a $1.5 billion deal

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:43

Post Holdings Inc. said Tuesday it will buy refrigerated foods producer Bob Evans Farms Inc. in a deal with an equity value of about $1.5 billion. Under terms of the deal, Post, a consumer goods holding company, will pay $77 for each Bob Evans share outstanding, which is 5.6% above Monday's closing price of $72.93. With 19.92 million shares outstanding, the deal, which is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2018, values Bob Evans at $1.53 billion. The expected cost synergies is about $25 million a year, which should be achieved by the third year after the closing. Post expects the deal to add to revenue growth and free cash flow immediately after the closing. "This transaction creates enhanced and certain value for our stockholders, while providing further resources and reach to deliver the Bob Evans experience to a broader audience of consumers and retailers," said Bob Evans Chief Executive Mike Townsley. Bob Evans stock, which was still halted for news, has soared 37% year to date, while Post shares have gained 6.8% and the S&P 500 has climbed 12%.

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Kohl's to offer free returns for Amazon customers in select stores

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:18

Kohl's Corp. said Tuesday it will offer free returns for Amazon.com Inc. customers in 82 stores across Los Angeles and Chicago, beginning in October. The discount retailer will pack and ship eligible return items. "This is a great example of how Kohl's and Amazon are leveraging each other's strengths--the power of Kohl's store portfolio and omnichannel capabilities combined with the power of Amazon's reach and loyal customer base," said Kohl's Chief Administrative Officer Richard Schepp. Earlier this month, Kohl's said it would start selling Amazon smart home products and a variety of Amazon devices in 10 Kohl's stores in Los Angeles and Chicago. Kohl's stock has lost 9.1% year to date, while Amazon shares have run up 30%, the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has lost 6.9% and the S&P 500 has gained 12%.

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AutoZone's stock rallies after profit and sales rise above expectations

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:11

Shares of AutoZone Inc. ran up 4.7% in light premarket trade Tuesday, after the auto parts retailer reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit and sales that rose above expectations. Net income for the quarter to Aug. 26 rose to $433.9 million, or $15.27 a share, from $426.8 million, or $14.30 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, such as a gain from the adoption of a new accounting standard, adjusted earnings per share came to $5.18, above the FactSet consensus of $5.11. Revenue increased 3.3% to $3.51 billion, beating the FactSet consensus of $3.49 billion. Domestic same-store sales grew 1.0%, but missed expectations of a 1.6% rise, which the company attributed to continuing headwinds resulting from two consecutive mild winters. Inventory increased 6.9%, as inventory per location rose to $644,000 from $625,000. The stock has shed 5.6% over the past three months through Monday, and 29% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 12% so far this year.

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Donald Trump Jr. gives up Secret Service protection: report

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 20:41

Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, has decided to give up his Secret Service protection, according to a New York Times report late Monday. Trump Jr., who lives in New York, reportedly is seeking more privacy, away from the large security detail. It was not immediately clear if he was lifting security for his wife and five children as well. The move should help the Secret Service, which has been hard-pressed to provide security to the President Donald Trump's large family and their extensive travels. Last month, the agency said more than 1,000 agents had already hit their yearly caps for salary and overtime.

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FBI was wiretapping ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort as late as this year: report

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 19:33

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was secretly wiretapped by the FBI before and after the presidential election, CNN reported late Monday. The report said the surveillance continued until early this year, a time period when Manafort and President Donald Trump were still communicating, though it was not immediately clear if his conversations with Trump had been captured. CNN said special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team has been given details of Manafort's intercepted communications. While sources told CNN the evidence may not be not conclusive, FBI investigators were reportedly concerned that Manafort was encouraging Russian meddling in the election. The secret surveillance order was first approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court in 2014, and renewed at some point last year. Earlier this summer, Manafort's home was raided by the FBI and his spokesman subpoenaed by the Mueller investigation. In late August, it was reported that Mueller was working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in his Manafort investigation to share potential evidence of financial crimes. In a separate report Monday, the New York Times said Mueller's investigators told Manafort during the raid on his house that they planned to indict him.

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Chinese micro-lender Qudian files for U.S. initial public offering

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 19:17

Qudian Inc. has filed for its U.S. initial public offering Monday, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents. The documents say the micro-lending company will list stock on the New York Stock Exchange via American Depository Shares under the symbol "QD." The Chinese company offers small loans that average between $134 and $184 and is targeting young, mobile-active customers who desire access to credit for discretionary spending, much of which is tied to electronics purchasing, the filing said. For the first two quarters of 2017 Qudian logged net income of $143 million on revenue of $270 million and last year the company booked net income of $85 million on sales of $212 million. In the first half of 2017 the company said that it facilitated $5.6 billion in transactions to seven million active borrowers. The company operates exclusively online and disburses the funds to the vast majority of customers via Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Alipay technology.

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Equifax suffered previously undisclosed hack in March: report

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 18:29

Equifax Inc. suffered another, previously undisclosed hack in March, according to a Bloomberg News report late Monday, raising new questions about the massive data breach it suffered earlier this summer. In a statement to Bloomberg, Equifax said the March hack was not related to the one that exposed personal and financial data of up to 143 million Americans between May and July, but sources told Bloomberg that the same intruders were responsible for both breaches. The earlier hack raises even more questions about Equifax's security measures, as well as the unusual stock sales by three executives immediately after the company learned about the bigger breach in August. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into those trades, Bloomberg reported earlier Monday, focusing on whether those executives violated insider trading laws.

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Optinose seeks to raise up to $100 million in initial public offering

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 18:15

Drug maker Optinose Inc. seeks to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Monday. The Yardley, Penn.-based company specializes in allergy and ear, nose and throat treatments and plans to list on the Nasdaq with a yet-to-be-determined ticker symbol. Jefferies, Piper Jaffray, BMO Capital Markets and RBC Capital Markets are listed as the underwriters. The company reported $47.5 million in licensing revenue and earnings of 94 cents a share in 2016.

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Supernus shares decline on drug study change

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 17:50

Supernus Pharmaceuticals Inc. shares declined late Monday after the drug maker said it has altered a study of a child aggression treatment under advice from a third-party statistician. Supernus shares declined 5.5% to $46.91 following a brief halt after hours. The company said it has decided to eliminate a low-dose, or 18 mg, option of its SPN-810 drug to treat impulsive aggression in children aged 6 to 12 years who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, while keeping the higher, 36 mg dose in the studies. The decision to make the change came from an early analysis from an independent third-party statistician, the company said. "Moving forward, all patients will be randomized to either the 36 mg dose arm or placebo until the predetermined total number of patients are enrolled without changing the size of the trials," Supernus said in a statement, adding that it "believes that this will maximize the probability of reaching a statistically significant outcome for the 36 mg dose."

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FedEx to hike shipping rates in 2018

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 17:38

FedEx Corp. announced Monday that it is raising shipping rates beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The shipping company said that FedEx Freight, Express, Ground and Home Delivery shipping rates in the U.S. will increase by an average of 4.9%, among other rates, according to a press release. In addition, FedEx plans to charge customers additional fees for shipments with large packages and that require additional handling by the company. Detailed information about the upcoming price changes can be found here. The company's stock has climbed 14.2% this year, with the S&P 500 index gaining 10.4%. FedEx announces earnings after Tuesday's market close.

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Valero, Plains All American drop deal after California lawsuit

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 17:07

Valero Energy Corp. and Plains All American Pipeline LP said late Monday they will drop a deal for Valero to acquire two California distribution terminals after interference from the state's attorney general. Valero shares were flat at $72.20 after hours, while Plains All American was down 1.3% on low volume. The companies had agreed that Valero would buy two petroleum storage and distribution terminals in Martinez, Calif. and Richmond, Calif. from Plains but the California Attorney General sought to halt the deal. "Plains and Valero have each decided that it is in their best interest to terminate the transaction rather than endure the continued uncertainty that a lengthy trial would create for the California-based employees and customers of the terminals, as well as the considerable expense associated with defending a taxpayer-funded lawsuit," the companies said in a statement.

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